The elephant in the room decided to swing its trumpet about and no one could keep pretending it wasn’t there. Before the sheer number of migrants at the doors of Europe, and after that harrowing picture of the washed-up body of that little boy, finally, the European Union decided to wake up. Well, partially. They held talks and opened borders. But this wasn’t a free for all.
There is that cartoon that has been making the round on social media. Two men at sea – one, White; the other, Black. The White man, confident that he will be rescued, asks the Black one who is waiting for him. The cat, that of racism, is out of the bag. And whether that is the case or not, who can tell. But there certainly is a double standard operating.
The overload of information, for want of a better word, on the migrant, or refugee crisis on our television screens and in our newspapers has obscured that equally, and valid humanitarian case that is the Calais Jungle.
Though the news has been talking about the Syrian refugee crisis, Syrians haven’t been the only people seeking refuge in Europe. Nor did they all turn up on one single day; they have been there for years. Ditto those of the Calais Jungle who also fled wars or despotic regimes. Regardless! Europe closes its eyes on their plight and calls them all economic migrants. People therefore un-deserving of compassion. People who “threaten the EU’s standard of living and social structure” and from whom Europe “can’t protect itself”.
Strong language, and a language deliberately devoid of any diplomatic niceties in order to drive a point home. Perhaps the point that he has no consideration for Africans. Because as he went on, Philip Hammond, the UK’s foreign secretary, for that’s him the author of those words, said: “the gap in standards of living between Europe and Africa means there will always be millions of Africans with the economic motivation to try to get to Europe. So long as there are large numbers of pretty desperate migrants marauding around the area, there always will be a threat to the tunnel security.”
What can be said to that, apart from a well! at a condescendence that doesn’t say its name.
His fears over the security of the tunnel got founded when just after midnight on October 02nd, about 200 migrants broke through security and entered the tunnel, causing services to be disrupted, then suspended. The migrants were intercepted by police about a quarter of the way in. According to Eurotunnel, “such a large group had no chance of reaching the UK, so this was clearly an organised attack aimed at drawing media attention to the desperate situation of the migrants who are stuck in Calais.”
It isn’t called the Jungle without reason. 3, 000 residents – men but also women and children – in rat-infested makeshift tents, water sources contaminated by faeces and residents suffering from tuberculosis, scabies and post-traumatic stress; a report has revealed. The majority are refugees from Sudan, Afghanistan, Eritrea and yes, Syria; all despotic regimes.
But for Philip Hammond, there is one solution and one solution only: those marauding migrants need to be sent back to Africa.
Indeed, there are migrants, and migrants.